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  • DTP Success Team

DSST Environmental Science Study Guide

Updated: Feb 14

Prepare for Success: Mastering the Environmental Science DSST Exam

Start Your Test Preparation Journey

You're in the right place if you're gearing up for the Environmental Science DSST exam.

Our comprehensive study guide will provide valuable insights into what to expect on test day and how to best prepare for success.


Understanding the Exam Structure

The Environmental Science DSST exam is a college-level assessment that spans two hours.

It delves into the physical and biological aspects of the environment, aiming to cultivate an understanding of environmental concepts, systems thinking, and the pivotal role of science in decision-making processes.


Unlock Valuable Resources

Access our study guide to gain access to invaluable resources tailored to help you excel on the Environmental Science DSST exam.

Our comprehensive materials support your learning journey, whether brushing up on core concepts or delving into more complex topics.


Develop a Solid Foundation

Master the fundamental environmental science concepts and enhance your systems thinking abilities with our study materials.

From understanding ecosystems to evaluating human impact on the environment, our resources will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle every aspect of the exam.


Practice Makes Perfect

Utilize practice tests and quizzes to assess your understanding and identify areas for improvement.

Our interactive resources provide a hands-on approach to learning, allowing you to reinforce key concepts and build confidence as you progress through your test preparation journey.


Achieve Your Academic Goals

With dedication, determination, and the right resources, you'll be well on your way to success on the Environmental Science DSST exam.

Please take advantage of our study guide and embark on your journey toward academic achievement today!


Table of Contents


1. Ecological Concepts

Catapillar on a plant.
Ecological Concepts (29% - 31%)

Exploring Ecosystem Dynamics

Ecosystems are intricate networks of organisms and their physical environments.

For instance, a forest ecosystem includes trees, plants, animals, soil, water, and air.


Organisms and Their Roles

In a forest ecosystem, trees act as producers, converting sunlight into energy through photosynthesis.

Animals like deer and squirrels are consumers, feeding on plants and other organisms.

Decomposers like fungi and bacteria break down dead organic matter, returning nutrients to the soil.


The Significance of Biodiversity

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms in an ecosystem.

For example, a diverse forest ecosystem may include different tree species, plant types, and a range of animal species.

This diversity helps maintain ecological stability by ensuring that if one species is affected by disease or environmental change, others can fill its ecological niche.


Energy Flow in Ecosystems

Energy linearly flows through ecosystems, starting with primary producers like plants, which convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis.

This energy is transferred to herbivores (primary consumers) that eat the plants and then to carnivores (secondary and tertiary consumers) that eat the herbivores.

This flow of energy is known as a food chain.


Trophic Levels and Interconnectedness

Trophic levels represent the different stages of energy transfer in an ecosystem.

For example, in a simple food chain, plants are at the first trophic level, herbivores are at the second, and carnivores are at the third.

On the other hand, food webs illustrate the complex interactions between different organisms in an ecosystem, showing that most organisms are part of multiple food chains.


Biogeochemical Cycling

Biogeochemical processes describe the movement of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus between living organisms, the atmosphere, and the Earth's crust.

For instance, carbon moves from the atmosphere into plants through photosynthesis, into animals when they eat the plants, and finally back into the atmosphere when organisms respire or when dead organisms decompose.


Population Biology and Evolution

Population biology focuses on the study of populations of organisms, including their distribution, abundance, and how they change over time.

Evolutionary processes, such as natural selection, genetic drift, and gene flow, play a crucial role in shaping the characteristics of populations and species.


Ecological Succession

Ecological succession is the process by which the structure of a biological community changes over time.

For example, pioneer species (such as grasses) colonize the area after a disturbance like a fire.

Over time, these species are replaced by more complex, stable communities, a process known as primary succession.


DSST Environmental Science Trivia Question # 143


2. Habitat Destruction

DSST Environmental Science Exam Outline. Habitat Destruction (24% - 26%)
Habitat Destruction (24% - 26%)

Exploring Human Population Dynamics

Discover the dynamic nature of human population growth, which expands at approximately 1.5% annually, equating to a staggering 89 million individuals added to the global population each year.


Climate vs. Weather

Climate refers to the long-term patterns of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and wind in a region, while weather describes the short-term atmospheric conditions.

Climate change involves shifts in these long-term patterns, leading to alterations in ecosystems and weather events.


The Ozone Layer

The ozone layer is a protective layer in Earth's stratosphere that absorbs most of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Ozone depletion, caused by human-made chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), can lead to increased UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface, resulting in health issues such as skin cancer and environmental damage.


Pollution and Its Impacts

Pollution includes various contaminants released into the environment, such as air pollutants (e.g., smog, particulate matter), water pollutants (e.g., chemicals, sewage), and soil contaminants.

Pollution can harm ecosystems, reduce air and water quality, and pose health risks to humans and wildlife.


Agricultural, Technological, and Industrial Advances

The agricultural, technological, and industrial sectors have undergone significant advancements, leading to increased productivity and economic growth.

However, these advancements have also contributed to environmental issues such as pollution, habitat destruction, and resource depletion.


Industrialization in Emerging Nations

Emerging nations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa are experiencing rapid industrialization driven by economic growth and globalization.

While industrial development can bring economic benefits, it also poses challenges such as environmental degradation and social inequalities.


Habitat Destruction and Biodiversity Loss

Habitat destruction, often caused by deforestation and land clearance, leads to biodiversity loss and ecological imbalances.

Conservation efforts are crucial to protecting habitats and preserving biodiversity.


Desertification and Eutrophication

Desertification is the process of fertile land becoming desert, often due to overgrazing, deforestation, and improper agricultural practices.

On the other hand, eutrophication is the excessive enrichment of water bodies with nutrients, leading to harmful algal blooms and ecosystem degradation.

Mitigation strategies include sustainable land and nutrient management practices in agriculture and aquaculture.


3. Environment Management and Conservation

Environment Management and Conservation (24% - 26%)
Environment Management and Conservation (24% - 26%)

Renewable vs. Nonrenewable Resources

Renewable resources, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, can replenish themselves over time, while nonrenewable resources, like fossil fuels, are finite and cannot be easily replaced.


Sustainable Agricultural Practices

Sustainable agricultural practices aim to minimize environmental impact while maintaining or increasing crop yields.

Techniques include crop rotation, organic farming, and integrated pest management.


Pesticides and Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) combines biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to manage pests effectively, reducing reliance on chemical pesticides and minimizing environmental impact.


Soil Conservation and Erosion Control

Soil conservation practices, such as contour plowing, terracing, and cover cropping, help prevent soil erosion, maintain soil fertility, and protect water quality.


Air Pollution Control Measures

Air pollution control measures include using filters, scrubbers, and catalytic converters to reduce emissions from industries and vehicles, improving air quality and public health.


Water Quality and Conservation

Water quality management involves monitoring and regulating water pollutants to ensure safe drinking water and protect aquatic ecosystems.

Conservation efforts aim to reduce water waste and maintain sustainable water supplies.


Wastewater Treatment and Recycling

Wastewater treatment removes contaminants from sewage and industrial effluents, ensuring clean water for reuse or safe discharge into the environment.


Solid and Hazardous Waste Management

Solid waste management practices, such as recycling, composting, and landfilling, help reduce waste volume and minimize environmental and health hazards associated with waste disposal.


Recycling and Resource Recovery

Recycling processes convert waste into new products, reducing the need for raw materials and lowering energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.


Environmental Risk Assessment

Environmental risk assessment evaluates potential risks posed by pollutants and hazardous substances to human health and the environment, guiding regulatory decisions and risk management strategies.


DSST Environmental Science Trivia Question # 524


4. Social Processes and the Environment

DSST Environmental Science Exam Outline. Social Processes and the Environment (19% - 21%)
Social Processes and the Environment (19% - 21%)

Environmental Laws and Policies

Environmental laws and policies are crucial for protecting natural resources from human activities.

Examples include the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and Kyoto Protocol, which aim to reduce pollution and conserve biodiversity.


Data-Driven Planning

Data-driven planning uses scientific data to assess environmental vulnerability and inform decision-making.

This approach helps identify conservation priorities and strategies for sustainable resource management.


International Environmental Agreements

International agreements like the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity demonstrate global efforts to address environmental challenges.

These agreements promote cooperation among nations to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.


Cultural and Societal Influences

Cultural and societal values play a significant role in shaping environmental policies.

For example, some cultures prioritize harmony with nature, leading to conservation-oriented policies, while others prioritize economic development, which can lead to policies prioritizing resource extraction over conservation.


Ethical Considerations

Ethics are crucial in environmental policy, guiding decisions on balancing human needs with environmental protection.

Ethical frameworks such as utilitarianism, which emphasizes maximizing overall well-being, and environmental ethics, which prioritize the intrinsic value of nature, inform policy choices.


DSST Environmental Science Trivia Question # 717


5. Conclusion: DSST Environmental Science

Woman holding out a leaf.

Mastering Key Ecological Concepts

Achieving success on the Environmental Science DSST exam necessitates a firm grasp of fundamental ecological principles.


Comprehensive Coverage of Essential Topics

The exam delves into many subjects, particularly on comprehending ecosystem dynamics and the intricate roles of various organisms within them.


Focus on Energy Flow and Trophic Levels

Understanding energy flow mechanisms and trophic level dynamics is paramount for exam success.


Prepare with Confidence

Our comprehensive preparation course offers in-depth coverage of these critical concepts and relevant practice questions meticulously designed to reinforce your understanding.


Access the Most Extensive DSST Course Library

Access the most extensive online DSST course library, providing all the resources necessary to excel on your Environmental Science DSST exam.


Start Your Preparation Today

Enroll now and embark on your journey to success on the Environmental Science DSST exam with confidence and readiness.


6. Student Resources


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